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A Python Invasion And The Future Of The Everglades

Burmese pythons, slithering all over the Florida Everglades. We’ll get up close with the cost of the python takeover.

In this 2009 photo provided by the National Park Service, a Burmese python is wrapped around an American alligator in Everglades National Park, Fla. The National Academy of Science report released Monday, Jan. 30, 2012, indicates that the proliferation of pythons coincides with a sharp decrease of mammals in the park. (AP)

In this 2009 photo provided by the National Park Service, a Burmese python is wrapped around an American alligator in Everglades National Park, Fla. The National Academy of Science report released Monday, Jan. 30, 2012, indicates that the proliferation of pythons coincides with a sharp decrease of mammals in the park. (AP)

It’s python heaven in the Florida Everglades these days. And python hell for just about every other species a python can swallow. The Burmese python is anything but native to Florida. It came in as import and pet. Broke out as abandoned pet and hurricane runaway.

Now, the Burmese python is the apex predator of the Florida Everglades. Thousands and thousands, eating everything in sight. Raccoon populations down 99 percent. Opossum, 98 percent. Deer, 94 percent. Fox and bobcat and alligator, down the hatch.

This hour, On Point: the python takeover in the Everglades.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Michael Dorcas, professor of biology, Davidson College, he’s the author of the recent report, Severe mammal declines coincide with proliferation of invasive Burmese pythons in Everglades National Park. He is also the author of Invasive Pythons in the United States: Ecology of an Introduced Predator.

Carol Mitchell, deputy director of the South Florida Natural Resources Center at the Everglades National Park.

Jeffrey Fobb, captain in the Miami Dade Fire-Rescue, in the anti-venom unit. He is also an authorized python removal agent at the Everglades National Park. You can find photos of his snake removal efforts at his Facebook page here.

From Tom’s Reading List

Orlando Sentinel “Here’s hoping a recent shocking report on the environmental devastation caused by Burmese pythons in the Everglades finally squeezes some sense into the nation’s antiquated, after-the-fact policy on invasive species.”

Christian Science Monitor “The problem isn’t just a growing number of hungry snakes. Certain mammals native to Florida have no recent experience with large predatory snakes.”

Washington Post “As the climate changes, and temperatures warm, snakes can go on the move. During two cold snaps that hit Florida in winters that started in 2009 and 2010, many pythons survived by burrowing into the earth and by finding deeper, warmer water to ride out the low temperatures. Dozens of snakes perished and were disposed of by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but what didn’t kill those that survived might have made them stronger, Dorcas said. ”

Photos

This photo gallery shows pythons captured in Florida’s Everglades National Park.

Video: Python Attacks Alligator

This video shows a Burmese python attacking an alligator in the Florida Everglades.

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